This smart bandage releases meds on command for better healing

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Taking care of a cut or scrape usually means swapping out the bandage a few times, and maybe putting a little healing cream or hydrogel on there. But what if the dressing could dispense that stuff on its own? That’s the idea behind a smart bandage now being tested by engineers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard and MIT.

Instead of plain sterile cotton or other fibers, this dressing is made of “composite fibers with a core electrical heater covered by a layer of hydrogel containing thermoresponsive drug carriers,” which really says it all.

It acts as a regular bandage, protecting the injury from exposure and so on, but attached to it is a stamp-sized microcontroller. When prompted by an app (or an onboard timer, or conceivably sensors woven into the bandage), the microcontroller sends a voltage through certain of the fibers, warming them and activating the medications lying dormant in the hydrogel.

Those medications could be anything from topical anesthetics to antibiotics to more sophisticated things like growth hormones that accelerate healing. More voltage, more medication — and each fiber can carry a different one.

“This is the first bandage that is capable of dose-dependent drug release,” said UN-L’s Ali Tamayol in a news release. “You can release multiple drugs with different release profiles. That’s a big advantage in comparison with other systems.”

Continue onto TechCrunch to read the complete article.

 

Alcatraz East Awards Graffiti Artists

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Graffiti Artist

It’s not often that graffiti artists get recognized and awarded for their artistic talents. But on June 2, 2018 that’s exactly what Alcatraz East Crime Museum did, holding a graffiti art contest giving the winners the opportunity to have their work on display at the museum for thousands of visitors to see. This first graffiti contest held by the museum featured seven pre-selected artists who also competed for cash prizes.

“We are excited with how our first outdoor event and first art contest went off,” says Rachael Penman, director of artifacts & exhibits at Alcatraz East. “It was a fun way to bring awareness to the public and give artists an opportunity to display their work in a museum setting.”

The top spots went to: 
1st place: Steve Hall of Maryville, TN
2nd place: Casey McKinney of Louisville, KY
3rd place: William Love of Nashville, TN

In addition to the local area, artists from Kentucky, South Carolina, and Georgia also competed. The contest guidelines restricted the artistic themes to be suitable for a general public audience, and in line with the museum’s law enforcement and crime history topics. Winners of the contest will have their panels displayed in the museum later this summer, and received cash prizes of $750 for first place, $350 for second place, and $200 for third place.

2nd place: Casey McKinney of Louisville, KY

The judges’ panel included local law enforcement representatives Sevier County Sheriff Ron “Hoss” Seals and Pigeon Forge Chief of Police Richard Catlett, as well as artist Kelly Sullivan from Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, and Rhonda Marsh, owner of Southern Draw Tattoo Studio in Pigeon Forge.

“This has been such a magical experience for me and I hope to see more events like this in the future,” shared William Love, one of the graffiti artist winners.”

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the national cost associated with removing graffiti from vandalized properties is at least $8 billion per year, between clean up and the lowering of property values. To combat this costly problem, many cities have introduced organized graffiti art projects to revitalize areas and provide official recognition to artists. Museum visitors will be able to see the graffiti exhibit to learn more about the topic and admire the artistic work on display.

“Based on the success of this year’s contest, we are planning to stage the event again next year,” added Penman. “We will start accepting artist applications on our website in January 2019.”

The Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. They are located near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. The museum offers a wide array of crime information, including notorious crimes and criminals, historic artifacts, interactive exhibits, crime scene investigation, crime detection and fighting, and information on how help avoid being a victim of crime. There are also many activities that are kid friendly. Currently, the OJ Simpson white chase Bronco is on display at the museum, along with Ted Bundy’s VW Beetle.

3rd place: William Love of Nashville, TN

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days per year, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, log online: www.alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East
Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit www.alcatrazeast.com

How Today’s Google Doodle, Dr. Virginia Apgar, Made A Big Difference

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Today is the birthday of Dr. Virginia Apgar, who has helped make many, many, many birthdays possible.  The pioneering doctor lived from June 7, 1909, to August 7, 1974, and is the subject of today’s Google Doodle. You can’t really go through medical school without knowing Apgar’s name, at least her last name. Here’s why.

In 1952, Dr. Apgar unveiled the Apgar score. Besides being her last name, Apgar stands for the following five domains “Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration” of the score. Basically 1 minute and 5 minutes after a baby is born, doctors, nurses, and midwives will score the baby from 0 to 2 (with 2 being the best) for each of these domains. The following table from the KidsHealth website shows how this scoring is done:

You then sum the 5 domain scores to get a sense of the baby’s overall health. If you do the math, you will see that the total score can range from a 0 to a 10 with a higher score being better. A baby rarely scores a 10, because most babies have at least blue hands and feet when they are born (hey, life ain’t easy and not everyone is the best at everything). A score of 7 or higher is normal. Lower than 7 merits immediate medical attention such as potentially oxygen, clearing out the airway, or physical stimulation to get the heart beating faster as the U.S. National Library of Medicine describes. Time may be all that the baby needs, since low scores at 1 minute frequently become normal at 5 minutes. Sometimes a doctor, nurse, or midwife may check an Apgar score 10 minutes after birth if any questions remain.

Of course, an Apgar score is only an immediate assessment and usually does not forecast either good or bad health in the future. So putting your good Apgar score on your resume will impress no one. A high Apgar score doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will be beer and Skittles from thereon. Similarly babies with low initial Apgar scores can go on to have very healthy lives.

While it may seem routine now, using a standardized way to check a baby’s health was not standard practice before Dr. Apgar invented the score. Newborn care was a lot more haphazard, making survival among infants, especially those born prematurely, more challenging.

It was an accomplishment for Dr. Apgar even to get to a position to make such an important invention. Back when she graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1929 and then from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1933, the “Apgar” score for the medical careers of women and minorities was very, very low. Very few were even allowed into medical school, let alone progress in their careers afterwards. But Dr. Apgar was a persistent pioneer, eventually becoming the first woman to achieve the rank of full professor at her medical alma mater in 1949. Things aren’t smooth sailing for women and minorities today in medical and academic careers. But you can thank Dr. Apgar for at least making some initial inroads.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

North Face is cutting waste by selling refurbished old coats

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To try to create more of a circular economy in the fashion industry, the outdoor gear company is launching a new line called Renewed, made up of old garments cleaned up so well that they’re like new.

If you buy a jacket from a just-launched pilot collection from The North Face, someone else might have already climbed a mountain or run a marathon in it. Called The North Face Renewed, the products are sourced from returns or defective items, cleaned and repaired to the quality of a new piece of clothing, and then sold online at a discount, as part of the company’s move toward a more circular business model.

“It just represents a really important next step in the evolution of our overall business,” says Tim Bantle, a general manager and vice president of lifestyle brands at The North Face. The company recognizes the apparel industry’s waste problem: 85% of textiles end up in a landfill. Even though the company makes products that are designed to last longer than average–items come with a lifetime guarantee, and the company offers repairs–it still had an opportunity to curb waste. Patagonia sells refurbished clothing through a similar online store.

During the new collection’s pilot phase, lasting from June through September, products will come from The North Face’s internal stock, including products that might have been returned under the company’s guarantee. A partner called The Renewal Workshop will professionally clean and restore items so they can be sold online.

Bantle argues that it especially makes sense to prolong the life of complex products like outdoor gear. “Oftentimes, when we think about designing an outerwear product, it really is more like designing a car than it is like designing a T-shirt in terms of the complexity of engineering and the kind of care that goes into the design and development of the product and testing,” he says. “When you’re building the quality of products that we are, but you’re only assuming one life for that, you’re really short-changing all of the work that you’re doing in terms of the design and development process.”

It’s already possible, of course, to find used North Face products on eBay or other resale sites. But the products in the new collection will be restored to like-new quality. The company thinks that it might begin to shift how their customers shop. “How many customers do we have today that might be full-price customers, that might actually buy Renewed product in the future instead?” says Bantle. Other customers, who might not have been able to afford the brand’s high prices in the past, might start buying the products for the first time.

Continue onto FastCompany to read the complete article.

The Secrets to Success: Incredible career insights from some of the world’s leading creatives

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Boniface-Mwangi

Learning from experienced artists, designers and photographers to understand how they achieve their goals should be part of every creative’s journey. We have to seek inspiration and ideas from those we admire if we’re ever going to get ahead.

These are the people who have already enjoyed lots of success and continue to be creative today – some who started their first business at aged eight years old while others are well past the typical retirement age. I guess when you choose creativity as a life-long passion, you never really stop working. Why would you, if you’re doing something you love?

So how have these established creatives managed to “make it”? What have been the secrets to their success? And what can we learn from them? We’ve rounded up some of the most inspiring and motivational talks and interviews to share incredible insights from some of the industry’s best.

1. Success, failure and the drive to keep creating – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

Author Elizabeth Gilbert was once an “unpublished diner waitress”, devastated by rejection letters. And yet, in the wake of the success of her best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, she found herself identifying strongly with her former self. With beautiful insight, Gilbert reflects on why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple, though hard, way to carry on, regardless of outcomes.

2. How to build your creative confidence – David Kelley

David Kelley

Creativity is not a domain of only a chosen few, according to David Kelley – founder of IDEO. And it shouldn’t be something that’s divided between “creatives” versus “practical” people. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build confidence to create.

3. Stop searching for your passion – Terri Trespicio

Branding strategist Terri Trespicio says there’s a lot of weight behind the age-old question, what are you passionate about? We’re constantly told these five words hold the key to a successful career and life purpose. Terri ponders, what if it’s the wrong question altogether? This inspiring talk turns the ubiquitous “find your passion” message on its ear.

4. Discoveries in Colour: The art of Carlos Cruz-Diez

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Carlos Cruz-Diez is a world-renowned artist and one of the greatest living figures in kinetic and op art. He creates interactive, immersive works that invite viewers to reconsider how they perceive the world – and at 94 years old, he continues to evolve as an artist, employing the newest digital technology in his Paris atelier, where he works with his children, his grandchildren, and a team of craftspeople who help bring his ideas to life. Watch the film below to understand how he has become one of the most influential modern thinkers in the realm of colour.

5. Maya Penn: Meet a young entrepreneur, cartoonist and activist

Maya Penn

Maya Penn started her first company when she was just eight years old, and thinks deeply about how to be responsible both to her customers and to the planet. She shares her story, and some animations, and some designs, and some infectious energy, in this charming talk. Hopefully, it will inspire you to launch your own business, find a different career path or start a fun side project.

6. A journey through the mind of an artist – Dustin Yellin

Dustin Yellin

Dustin Yellin makes mesmerising artwork that tells complex, myth-inspired stories. How did he develop his style? In this disarming talk, he shares the journey of an artist, starting from age eight, and his idiosyncratic way of thinking and seeing. Follow the path that leads him up to his latest major work, and be inspired by his journey so far.

7. The day I stood up alone – Boniface Mwangi

Boniface Mwangi

Photographer Boniface Mwangi wanted to protest against corruption in his home country of Kenya. So he made a plan: he and some friends would stand up and heckle during a public mass meeting. But when the moment came… he stood alone. What happened next, he says, showed him who he truly was. As he says, “There are two most powerful days in your life. The day you are born, and the day you discover why.” Be warned, there are graphic images in the following talk.

8. The art of creativity – Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi is a visual artist, actor, writer and film director hailing from New Zealand. His short film Two Cars, One Night was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. Taika’s second feature, Boy, appeared at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals in 2010 and, more recently, his Hunt for the Wilderpeople enjoyed huge global success. In this classic TED Talk, he discusses how creativity has helped him to express his ideas and led him to where he is today.

“From the art & design magazine, Creative Boom.”

This kit for making medical tests can be put together like Legos

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Ampli’s reusable blocks let scientists quickly and cheaply create diagnostic tests–and they could be especially helpful in the developing world.

Right now, if a technician working in a lab in rural Angola needs to run a test to see if a patient is infected with Zika or Ebola, they’ll likely use a paper test imported from somewhere else–and if that test doesn’t work for the local population, or if it’s too expensive to buy, there may be no other option. But a new Lego-like kit is designed to make it possible for technicians anywhere to make, and tweak, diagnostics themselves.

The tiny kit called Ampli, uses modular blocks that can be connected in different patterns to replicate the function that would typically be built into a manufactured test for pregnancy, glucose, or an infection or other disease. Pregnancy tests made by a medical device company, for example, use an antibody added to a paper strip that reacts to a hormone that women produce when pregnant, and that reaction causes the paper to change color. The new blocks can create the same test without the complexity of embedding elements in paper ahead of time. It can also perform tests that are typically done with test tubes in a lab, such as a test that carefully mixes three chemicals to see if someone has taken medicine for TB. With the kit, no lab is needed, and the test costs $1.

One type of block is designed to collect a sample of blood or urine from a patient. Another type has a tiny channel for samples to flow through; a third type has turns that make multiple reactions possible. After arranging the blocks, someone working in a lab can sandwich a tiny sheet of paper in the kit, run the test with their sample and chemicals they have in the lab (the paper will turn different colors depending on the result), and then sterilize the blocks to reuse them again.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Alcatraz East Crime Museum Invites Graffiti Artists to Compete

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graffiti-art-contest

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (April 24, 2018) – It’s considered to be a crime and it has been said that graffiti is everyone’s problem. It’s an eyesore that typically brings property values down and costs a lot to clean up.

In fact, it’s estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency that the national cost associated with graffiti across the country is at least $8 billion per year. To combat this costly problem, many cities have introduced organized graffiti art areas and in some instances commission graffiti murals to “problem” vandal areas. In Knoxville, Tenn., there is a graffiti walking tour of murals that give an insight into the cities rich history. Now, in an effort to raise awareness, Alcatraz East Crime Museum will be hosting their 1st Annual Graffiti Art Contest, and they are inviting artists to participate.

“Graffiti is a serious issue that cities around the country deal with on a daily basis,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer for Alcatraz East. “We want people to understand how costly vandalism is and raise awareness on programs that provide a solution.”

The graffiti contest will be held at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, on Saturday, June 2, 2018. The winning artists will have their work on display in the museum, helping to teach patrons about the topic.

Those artists who would like to participate must submit their samples to pre-qualify for the event date. Winners of the graffiti contest win bragging rights, will have their work displayed in the museum, and will win a cash prize. The prizes are $750 for first place, $350 for second place, and $200 for third place. Artists must be at least 18, the artwork must be a crime-related subject, and it’s only open to individuals, not teams. Artists can pre-qualify online at: alcatrazeast.com/graffiti-contest/.

“We are excited about this event and look forward to showcasing the winning artwork,” added Vaccarello. “Our exhibit will create conversations about graffiti, which is something that is found from coast to coast. If our exhibit influences any young minds which prevents future vandalism- then we have done our job!”

The museum also recently added new exhibits and artifacts, with there being something for everyone. Their new interactive exhibits give people the ability to test their pirate skills at tying knots, gives people the ability to share their own 9/11 experiences, and gives them the chance to offer a thank you message to law enforcement departments around the nation. One of the most popular items on display at the museum is the O.J. Simpson white Bronco from the infamous police chase that unfolded on television before millions of viewers.

The museum continues to add to their collection monthly and has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East
Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: alcatrazeast.com.

# # #

From Farmer to Fortune, How One Medical Device Revolutionized An Industry

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iwalk-free

Each year, many entrepreneurs bring their products to market. Yet, research shows that the majority of them will not make it. Among those new products each year, there will be rare items that not only make it, but that completely revolutionize an industry. That’s exactly what happened with the iWALK2.0, a medical device that is essentially giving crutches and scooters a run for their money and longevity. In fact, the company has seen such success from the sales of the device that they expect to hit their 100,000th unit sold this year.

“Crutches have been around for 5,000 years, but the iWALK2.0 has already earned its place in the industry as the device of choice for those who have a lower leg injury,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc. “Not only have we won multiple awards for the device, but the feedback we’ve gotten and the sales statistics we’re experiencing all point to a robust future for the iWALK2.0.”

The story of the iWALK2.0 begins with a farmer who created the original version to give himself an easier way to be more mobile while recovering from a lower leg injury. Little did he know he was sitting on a billion dollar idea. It was when Hunter came along and saw the potential in the product that the idea was brought to fruition for the mass market. Hunter purchased half of the company, took the device concept to a whole new level, and introduced it to the world.

During Hunter’s first year, the company had a million dollars in sales, confirming what Hunter had suspected, which was that this was going to be a successful product launch. A serial entrepreneur, he was no stranger to the hard work and dedication that it took to help products find their place in the market. While the device continued to do well, it really saw a huge increase in interest and popularity when Harrison Ford was seen using it. Ford then used it again, for a different injury, which further boosted awareness. Since that time, additional celebrities and athletes have used it, including surfer Kelly Slater and hockey player Nick Bonino, among others.

Hunter knows that there is more that goes into a successful company than just having a great product. His secrets to entrepreneurial success include:

  • Have a clear vision before you start anything, and stick with it – no matter what.
  • Do your homework and lay a strong foundation before you make your first commitment.
  • If others say you can’t do it, prove them wrong.
  • Don’t give it 100%. Give it 150%… or more.
  • Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
  • Mediocrity is the enemy of excellence.
  • Build a strong team.
  • Watch your finances – daily.  Always know exactly where you are.
  • Be proficient at changing hats minute by minute.  Advanced multi-tasking capabilities are essential.
  • Know when to quit. Here’s a hint – never.

“Creating a truly great product is really hard. Building a truly great company is even harder,” adds Hunter. “But if you are dedicated to your vision, work hard, and believe in what you are doing you will increase your chances of success. Believing in yourself is a large part of the equation. I’m thrilled with where the iWALK2.0 is and in its future.”

Sales have soared, the company has won awards for the design and concept of the device, and it is literally revolutionizing the industry. Increasingly, people are opting for the iWALK2.0, which resembles a high-tech pirate’s peg leg, and makes it easier for them to be mobile while they are recovering from a lower leg injury. The iWALK2.0 attaches just below the knee, attaching to and recruits the user’s leg, giving people the ability to stand and walk as they normally do, thus replacing the need for crutches or a scooter. With this route, they are hands-free, which allows them to do things they are used to doing, such as walking their dog, drinking their coffee, using their cellphone, or carrying groceries. In 2017, sales were up 50% over the prior year, and on Amazon the sales were up 154% over the prior year.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, easy to learn to use, it’s intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or down stairs.

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit iWALK2.0 video on You Tube.

About iWALKFree

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc.  It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at iwalk-free.com

# # #

This New Prosthetic Limb Transmits Sensations Directly To The Nervous System

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Even with the most advanced prosthetics, amputees cannot feel the ground when they walk on a synthetic leg, or know if someone is touching a mechanical arm. This new MIT tech hopes to change that.

In 1992, Hugh Herr, now head of the Biomechatronics Group at MIT Media Lab, had both of his legs amputated below the knees after sustaining frostbite during a mountain climbing accident. “I”m basically a bunch of nuts and bolts from the knees down,” Herr says, demonstrating his prosthetic legs on the stage at TED 2018 in Vancouver, “but I can skip, dance, and run.”

Herr’s team at MIT focuses on building prosthetic limbs that respond to neural commands with the flexibility and speed of regular limbs. Around 24 sensors and six microprocessors pick up neural signals from Herr’s central nervous system when he thinks about moving his legs. They transmit those signals to the prosthetics, which move accordingly. But despite this remarkable connectivity between man and machine, it’s not a complete fusion. “When I touch my synthetic limbs, I don’t experience normal touch and movement sensations,” Herr says. In order to know his neural commands worked, he has to look and actually see his foot hit the ground–he can’t feel it.

Reproducing the sensations of having a real limb in prosthetics is, Herr believes, the last remaining hurdle to creating truly effective synthetic limbs. “If I were a cyborg and could feel my legs, they’d become a part of myself,” Herr says. But for now, they still feel separate.

His team, however, is working on a new type of limb that would receive not only commands, but sensations, from the central nervous system. This principle, which Herr calls neuro-embodied design, involves extending the human nervous system into synthetic body parts.

Since the Civil War, when limbs are amputated, doctors have generally truncated the tendons and nerve endings, which minimizes sensation and often leads to the “phantom limb” feeling experienced by many amputees. But in a new process Herr’s team pioneered at MIT, doctors leave the tendons and nerve endings intact so they can continue to feed sensations down past where the human leg ends and the prosthetic begins.

Last year, a fellow mountain climber and old friend of Herr’s, Jim Ewing, became the first patient to undergo the new amputation process and get fitted with a cyborg-like synthetic limb.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

CVS Health Fights Back on High Cost Drugs by Launching Industry’s Most Comprehensive Approach to Saving Patients Money

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New CVS Health initiative seeks to solve one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of consumer financial worry.

Recognizing the threat of rising drug prices and high out-of-pocket costs, CVS Health providing most advanced solutions for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

CVS Pharmacists are key resource for patients in identifying opportunities to maximize their prescription benefits and save money at the pharmacy counter in communities nationwide.

CVS Caremark mitigating impact of high drug costs by providing members and prescribers with robust information and innovative tools to choose lower-cost prescription drugs.

The high cost of prescription drugs is one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of financial worry for consumers across the nation. While CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) has made significant progress in mitigating the impact of high list prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers, for too many Americans annual out-of-pocket drug costs are still significant. In response, CVS Health announced today that it is fighting back by launching the most comprehensive program in the industry to help patients save money on their medications.

According to a recent national poll, commissioned by CVS Health, 83 percent of Americans said they were concerned personally about the impact of rising prescription drug prices.[1] As prescription drug prices continue to rise and enrollment in high deductible health plans grows, many patients are shouldering higher costs for their prescription medicine.

CVS Health will address this problem with a robust set of initiatives, including the new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder, which will enable the company’s retail pharmacists for the first time to evaluate quickly and seamlessly individual prescription savings opportunities right at the pharmacy counter. This new tool further enhances existing savings opportunities the company’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) CVS Caremark is currently offering its clients such as the preventive drug lists that make medications for many common, chronic conditions available at a $0 copay. In addition, CVS Caremark provides real-time, member-specific drug costs and lower-cost alternatives to prescribers through their electronic health record system and to CVS Caremark members through the member portal and newly updated app. These programs are part of CVS Health’s commitment to helping consumers find the lowest cost prescription drugs by offering more pricing transparency for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

“Today’s consumers are faced with higher prescription drug prices than ever before and many of them are now paying for a larger share of their prescription drug costs out of their own pockets at the pharmacy counter due to growth in high deductible health plans,” said Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, CVS Health. “Until now, patients haven’t had the appropriate tools available to them to help them manage these costs. To address this, CVS Health is giving expanded tools to patients, prescribers and pharmacists so they can evaluate prescription drug coverage in real-time and identify lower-cost alternatives. We are committed to finding the right drug at the lowest possible cost for patients to ensure they are able to access and stay on the medications they need. That’s our promise.”

Pharmacist working at the drugstore

At the Pharmacy Counter

The new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder enables the retail pharmacist to quickly and seamlessly review a patient’s prescription regimen, medication history and insurance plan information to determine the best way for them to save money on out-of-pocket costs – with the primary goal of helping the patient find the lowest cost alternative under their pharmacy benefits plan.

“Our direct experience is that patients who are confronted with high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter are less likely to pick up their prescriptions and are less likely to be adherent to their prescribed therapy,” said Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President, Retail Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy.

“Armed with the information available through our Rx Savings Finder, our more than 30,000 CVS pharmacists can play an important role by helping patients save money on their medications, providing advice on how and when to take them, and ultimately helping them achieve better health outcomes,” Hourican added. “We are beginning this process with our CVS Caremark PBM members and expect to roll it out more broadly throughout the year.”

The Rx Savings Finder will show pharmacy teams:

  1. First, if the prescribed medication is on the patient’s formulary and is the lowest cost option available.
  2. Second, if there are lower-cost options covered under the patient’s pharmacy benefit – such as a generic medication or therapeutic alternative with equivalent efficacy of treatment.
  3. Third, if the patient may be able to save money by filling a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day prescription.
  4. Finally, if neither a generic nor a lower-cost alternative is available, other potential savings options for eligible or uninsured patients where allowed by applicable laws and regulation.[2]

Pharmacists can also help patients enroll in the ExtraCare Loyalty Program and sign them up for Pharmacy and Health Rewards. Through Pharmacy and Health Rewards, patients receive $5 in ExtraBucks for every 10 prescriptions filled, earning up to $50 in ExtraBucks annually.

At the Doctor’s Office

Another component of the company’s comprehensive savings approach is the recently launched real-time benefits program, which helps bring greater drug price transparency to prescribers and CVS Caremark members. At the point-of-prescribing, providers are able to see the member-specific cost for a selected drug, based on a member’s coverage, along with up to five lowest-cost, clinically appropriate therapeutic alternatives based on the patient’s formulary. PBM members have access to the same information on the CVS Caremark app and member portal. Early results show that prescribers accessing the real-time benefits information through their electronic health record switched their patient’s drug from a non-covered drug to a drug on formulary 85 percent of the time. In addition, when the patient’s drug is covered, prescribers using real-time benefits switch their patient to a lower-cost alternative 30 percent of the time. When the prescriber switched to a lower-cost drug, the difference was approximately $75 per prescription.
“We have been working hard to keep prescription medications affordable for patients,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “In fact, in 2017, nearly 90 percent of our PBM plan members spent less than $300 out-of-pocket for their prescription medicines. While this signals progress, for those patients that cost is not insignificant. That is why we are committed to doing even more across our enterprise to help patients find and access the lowest cost drug at the pharmacy which ultimately will help improve clinical outcomes and remove higher downstream medical costs from the system.”

Using Pharmacy Benefit Management Solutions

CVS Health is also making a variety of PBM solutions available to help further drive down drug trend for its PBM clients and drug costs for the patients they support. The company’s Point of Sale (POS) rebate offering allows the value of negotiated rebates on branded drugs to be passed on directly to patients when they fill their prescriptions – and the savings from this program can be significant. In 2013, CVS Health led the industry with the introduction of POS rebates to clients, and today nearly 10 million members are covered by and able to benefit from the program.

In 2017, despite manufacturer brand list price increases on drugs near 10 percent, CVS Health PBM strategies reduced drug trend for CVS Caremark commercial clients to the lowest level in five years, keeping drug price growth at a minimal 0.2 percent. In fact, 42 percent of CVS Caremark commercial clients spent less on their pharmacy benefit plan in 2017 than they had in 2016. CVS Caremark helped members reduce monthly out-of-pocket costs and improve adherence to its highest level in seven years in key categories such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

Prescription drug trend is the measure of growth in prescription spending per member per month. Trend calculations take into account the effects of drug price, drug utilization and the mix of branded versus generic drugs as well as the positive effect of negotiated rebates on overall trend. The 2017 trend performance is based on a cohort of CVS Health PBM commercial clients, employers and health plans.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,800 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 94 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

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[1] The Morning Consult poll was conducted from February 22-26, 2018, among a national sample of 1992 registered voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

[2] Prescriptions submitted for reimbursement to Medicare, Medicaid or other federal or state programs are not eligible.

Origami-Inspired Personal Shelter Provides A Quick Solution For Homeless

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Tina Hovsepian didn’t just want to get an “A” on her class project — she wanted to change people’s lives, too.

The architect is the inventor of Cardborigami — the collapsable, transportable and origami-inspired personal shelter she started inventing as a University of Southern California student in 2007. What started as Hovsepian’s academic assignment has become a feasible way to alleviate homelessness in her hometown of Los Angeles.

Hovsepian — who is currently raising funds to expand her product onto the streets of L.A. — was honored at a Women in the World event on March 18 for the design, and was awarded the Toyota Driving Solutions grant of $50,000 to further her work helping the homeless.

As she explained at the event, Hovsepian was moved to advocate for those in need after studying abroad in Cambodia, where her program helped redesign an impoverished school.

“It was… the first time witnessing firsthand third world poverty, and it got me really thinking about how privileged I am to be able to live in America, in Los Angeles, have an education, have supportive… people around me,” she said in a video produced by Women In The World, noting homelessness on Skid Row “is worse than [in] any third world country,” because the U.S. has the resources to do something about it.

Hovsepian is the founder and executive director of Cardborigami, the nonprofit, which is aiming to use the product as a way to secure permanent, long-term housing for those who need it.

The organization developed a four-step path out of homelessness, according to Hovsepian. First and foremost, Cardborigami will prioritize providing immediate shelter — such as its product — to those who need it. Secondly, the nonprofit will work with partner organizations that can provide social services to clients.

Securing permanent housing and then sustaining that housing through job placement are the third and final steps in the group’s model.

Continue onto HuffingtonPost to read the complete article.